Canine herpesvirus (CHV) is an occasional cause of fading puppy syndrome, upper respiratory tract disease ( kennel cough ) and abortion/ stillbirths in dogs. The main route of transmission appears to be oronasal from infected puppies or from nasal or vaginal excretions of adults. The virus spreads rapidly through kennels but usually only causes disease in very young puppies.
Infection of adults or puppies over 3 weeks old results in replication in the respiratory tract without clinical disease. The virus can undergo latent infection and reactivation, and further shedding can be induced by immunosuppression or stress.
In very young puppies, the virus generalises by viraemia, and replicates in many organs including the CNS.
Age resistance appears to be mainly a matter of body temperature: the virus grows best at temperatures just below that of normal dogs, so puppies less than 3 weeks old, which generally cannot yet regulate their own temperature, are most risk of generalised disease.
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